|Communist con- centration camps.
Everywhere you go in Germany you hear such stories. No doubt some are exaggerated, but there is little doubt that a perverse pleasure was taken in subjecting the officers of the defeated enemy army to every conceivable indignity.
In every army there are bound to be some sadists and cads. The horrible thing was that the orders given to the American Army in the early period of the occupation encouraged the brutal and un- chivalrous minority, and prescribed imitation of Nazi methods in the treatment of the vanquished.
The shock to the Germans was all the greater because, although they had expected Russian lawlessness and brutality, they had be- lieved that America would treat them fairly. Many had welcomed the end of the war which, whatever punishment it might bring, they expected to establish a rule of law in place of Nazi lawlessness and tyranny. But today belief in democratic justice is almost dead.
The atrocities we have ourselves committed in Germany are not the only ones for which posterity will hold us guilty.
President Roosevelt at Yalta and President Truman at Potsdam agreed in the name of the American people to one of the most barbaric acts recorded in the long history of man’s inhumanity to man. According to these agreements, some twelve million people were expropriated and driven from their homes for no other crime than that of being Germans.
In past ages when territory was annexed by a victor nation, the inhabitants were not all robbed and they were allowed to continue living in their ancestral homes. America and England, however, agreed that Germany was not only to be deprived of territory in- habited by Germans for hundreds of years; the Russians, Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavs and other nations were iven the right to ex- propriate and drive out all people of German ancestry.
The proviso that the expulsions should be conducted in a hu- mane manner merely added a revolting aura of hypocrisy to this crime against humanity.
202 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
The Poles, who were given possession of the territory “east of the Oder-Neisse line,” drove out the inhabitants with the utmost brutality, throwing women and children, the aged and the sick, out of their homes with only a few hours’ notice, and not sparing even those in hospitals and orphanages.
The Czechs, no less brutal, drove the Germans over the moun- tains on foot, and at the frontier stole such belongings as they had been able to carry. Having an eye for profit as well as revenge, the Czechs held thousands of German men as slave aborers while driving out their wives and children.
Many of the old, the young, and the sick died of hunger or cold or exposure on the long march into what remained of Germany, or perished of hunger and thirst and disease in the crowded cattle cars in which some of the refugees were transported. Those who survived the journey were thrust upon the slender resources of starving occupied Germany. No one of German race was allowed any help by the United Nations. The displaced-persons camps were closed to them nd first the United a Nations Relief and Rehabili- tation Administration (UNRRA) and then the International Ref- ugee Organization (IRO) was forbidden to succor them. The new untouchables were thrown into Germany to die, or survive as paupers in the miserable accommodations which the bombed-out cities of Germany could provide for those even more wretched than their original inhabitants.
How many people were killed or died will never be known. Out of a total of twelve to thirteen million people who had committed the crime of belonging to the German race, four or five million are unaccounted for. But no one knows how many are dead and how many are slave laborers. Only one thing is certain: Hitler’s bar - baric liquidation of the Jews has been outmatched by the liquida- tion of Germans by the “democratic, peace -loving” powers of the United Nations.
As the Welsh minister, Dr. Elfan Rees, head of the refugee divi- sion of the World Council of Churches, said in a sermon delivered at Geneva University on March 13, 1949: “More people have been rendered homeless by an Allied peace than by a Nazi war.”
The estimate of the number of German expellees, or flüchtlinge as the Germans call them, in Rump Germany is now eight or nine million. The International Refugee Organization (IRO) takes no account of them, and was expressly forbidden by act of Congress to give them any aid. It is obviously impossible for densely over-
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 203
crowded Western Germany to provide for them. A few have been absorbed into industry or are working on German farms, but for the most part they are living in subhuman conditions without hope of acquiring homes or jobs.
In Bavaria, while we, the occupiers, have requisitioned thousands of hotels, chateaux, barracks and private houses for our exclusive use, and while the IRO’s dwindling DP population occupies com - fortable quarters also provided by the Germans, the German DP’s are crammed into draughty huts and receive no gifts of food and clothing from international organizations. Having agreed that they should be xpropriated ande driven from their homes, the United States professes itself uninterested in their fate. Military Govern- ment tells the German Länder administrations that German refu- gees are entirely a “German concern.”
In effect, we say in Germany that anyone who was a victim of Nazi crimes is to be succored, but that those whose sufferings are our own responsibility can rot and die. We also make a careful racial distinction between the various categories of Communist persecutees. Thus a Czech who escapes from the Communist ter- ror is entitled to enter the DP camps and be fed on American food. But a Russian, Rumanian, Hungarian, or Yugoslav who manages to slip across the border into Bavaria, has to live on the German economy. Members of these nations may not enter the DP camps, unless they were in Germany before the end of the war. In effect we say that with the sole exception of the Czechs, only Nazi vic- tims are entitled to help, not Communist victims. Thus Germany not only has to provide accommodation for Hitler’s former vic - tims, the German economy is also now forced to support hundreds of thousands of Stalin’s victims. Nor is this all. Germany acts as a receiving center and transit camp for many thousands of Jews who have left Poland, Rumania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia since the Communists took over. In one Jewish DP camp near Mu- nich every single person I spoke to had come to Germany after 1945 in hopes of getting to Palestine.
Although the number of displaced persons in Germany is con- tinually diminishing and many of the camps are half empty, the Germans are not allowed either to regain possession of the many houses, barracks, and other buildings occupied by the DP’s, or to place their own refugees in them. Exact information is not avail- able ince sthe German authorities are not allowed to enter the DP camps but, according to the estimate of the Bavarian Minister for
204 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
Refugees, between twenty-four and twenty-eight thousand beds are now unoccupied. While this accommodation is wasted the German refugees are crowded into unsanitary huts and other accommoda- tion unprovided with the most elementary comforts and decencies, and frequently have to sleep on the floor.
Before coming to Nuremberg I visited several of the flüchtlinge camps in Bavaria. The ontrast between their living conditions andc those of the majority of non-German DP’s demonstrated how for - tunate are the former victims of the Nazis as compared to those who suffer the consequences of the crimes against humanity com- mitted by the “victor ious democracies.”
In the Dachau camp near Munich I found fifty or more people — men, women and children— to each wooden hut 26 x 65 feet in size. There were no partitions, but the inmates were using some of their precious blankets to screen off their cubicles. The huts were cold and damp. It was raining and one woman with a little girl suffering from a bad cold showed me the wall behind their bed where the rain seeped through.
Four hundred people at Dachau shared one washroom and one outdoor latrine and there was no hot water. No one had any linen or sheets, and some had neither shoes nor overcoats.
Those of the flüchtlinge who have found employment have to continue living at places like Dachau since there is no other ac- commodation to be found. In Bavaria s a whole, there are already two people on an average in every room or cellar, and the situation is little better in the rest of the United States and British zones. So the flüchtlinge who get jobs often have to travel four or five hours a day, partly on oot, to reach them. One woman I talked tof at Dachau told me her daughters left home at 5:30 a.m. and re- turned from work at 9:00 p.m. after walking two and a half hours each day.
For the most part, however, the flüchtlinge have no hope of work, especially since the currency reform which wiped out many small enterprises which had formerly given some of them employ- ment. Moreover, a large proportion of the German refugees are women with young children.
I visited the two schools at the camp, one for Protestants and the other for Catholics. The schoolroom was an unheated wooden barrack without desks. The children sat on benches and had no books and hardly any paper or pencils. The two schoolmasters gave instruction by writing on the blackboard. One of them was a So-
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 205
cial Democrat from the Sudetenland who had spent the war years in a Nazi concentration camp, and had been liberated only to be thrown out of his home by the Czechs. The children looked thin and pale, but somehow clean and neat, as almost all Germans somehow manage to be even when living in the most miserable con- ditions.
In both schoolrooms the children stood stiffly at attention and shouted “Grüss Gott” in unison when I came in. Formerly they would have said “Heil Hitler” in the same manner, and could hardly imagine that at Dachau they thought “democracy” was an improvement on the Third Reich.
I spent the greater part of a day at Dachau, and spent several hours in Barracks No. 14 getting the history of each family there. The oldest inhabitants of the barrack were a Dr. Werner, aged 64, and his wife. He had been a judge in old Austria and then a state’s attorney in the Sudetenland for twenty years. The Werners’ only son had been killed on the Russian front. In May 1945 Dr. Werner had been arrested by the Czech Government and kept in prison for two years where he was himself starved and beaten, and wit- nessed the torturing of many fellow prisoners. When finally re- leased he was a wreck and of course all his property had been con- fiscated. Meanwhile his wife had been driven out of Czechoslovakia and been robbed of everything she possessed, even her wedding ring. She had first been transported with thousands of others in open freight cars as far as Teplitz, and then literally driven by the Czechs on foot over the Erz Mountains. After five weeks of wan- dering hungry over the roads she had found a place as a farm worker in Saxony. Dr. Werner finally found her there after his own expulsion and was also hired by a farmer. But in August 1947 he was deported back to Bohemia as a slave laborer. Finally he was allowed to go to Bavaria to rejoin his wife who had managed to escape from the Russian zone.
These two old people had no hope at all. They were by now too worn out to do physical labor, and there was no other. They had been robbed of their home and their clothes, their furniture and their linen, and could expect gradually to rot away in Dachau. But they were brave old people and not merely concerned with their own troubles. Frau Werner was helping the women with young children and Dr. Werner clearly enjoyed the confidence and re- spect of all the other fifty-three people in the barracks. Thanks to him I got each of their case histories, and later when I managed
206 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
to send him some food and clothing, and got friends in America to send a few CARE packages, Dr. Werner distributed them all around, as I know from letters I received.
Each family or individual in the barracks had had the same kind of experience as the Werners, and some had suffered far worse treatment. The case of Fritz Bernglau and his wife Melitta was typical. After fighting on the Russian front and being taken pri- soner, he had escaped and got home to Czechoslovakia. There he had “eagerly awaited the arrival of the American troops, who un - fortunately remained outside Karlsbad.” The Russians came and under their protection the Czech Communists looted the town of Bodenbach where the Bernglaus lived. Later the whole population was expelled in a veritable March of Death. In one day the twenty- four thousand inhabitants of the town were thrown out and then driven like cattle into Saxony. The women and children and old people who could not keep up the pace were beaten with clubs and many dropped by the way. All baggage had to be abandoned. After being unable to obtain shelter in Russian-occupied Lower Saxony, and wandering the roads there for three weeks, the Bernglaus turned back to Bodenbach hoping to be able to retrieve some clothes and linen they had hidden in their house before being ex- pelled. Both were discovered and arrested and Melitta was brutally beaten. They spent ten weeks in prison where thirty-two people were penned into cells for two, and the women had to listen to the screams of men being tortured, for the prison was full of “political” prisoners, meaning “capitalists and landowners.” The wife of the banker Adler committed suicide because she thought the screams she heard were those of her husband in the next cell. Some prisoners were literally beaten to death.
“Having learned the horror of Bolshevism on our own bodies,” as Fritz Bernglau expressed it, he and his wife, after their release from the Czech prison, now had only one idea: to get out of the Russian zone. So today they are in Dachau, which, bad as it is, is preferable to being under Communist rule.
I will mention only one more case, that of Erika Bruno whose pretty little daughter Renate caught my attention when I entered the barracks. She was a farmer’s wife in Silesia but had been caught by the surrender visiting her brother in Czechoslovakia. Although pregnant she was banished to her home and had to walk two hun- dred miles on foot, over the Riésen Mountains, living on roots and what she could get by begging. But as soon as she got home, the
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 207
Poles threw her out and robbed her of all she possessed, even her coat and shoes. In an advanced state of pregnancy she walked bare- foot until Christmas 1945 from town to town as far as the March of Brandenburg, where she was admitted to a hospital and her child was born.
It was somewhat ore cheerful to visit m the Wagoner “factory” which a group of Sudeten expellees had managed to set up near Munich. They had been driven out with two thousand others on foot, and had the fifty-five pounds of baggage each had been al- lowed to carry stolen from them by the Czechs at the frontier. One of them had even been deprived of the little pushcart on which he was transporting his two-year-old son and had to carry him on his back. But the workers from the Wagoner Factory had kept to- gether and had managed to get hold of a few machines from the American authorities who let them use dismantled reparation ma- chinery for a time. Then the Norwegians had given them a couple of reparation machines in return for their services in repairing others. In this and other ways, being highly skilled workers, they had pieced together sufficient means of production to be able to earn their living once again, and were producing boring machines in a little factory. Visiting this enterprise one realized the stupidity of the zech Government in throwing out skilled workers to satisfyC their lust for revenge, or their greed.
But a sword of Damocles hung over the flüchtlinge who had ceased to be paupers. At any moment the United States reparations authorities might order the dismantlement of the transformers which supplied power to the Wagoner workshops and other small enterprises in the vicinity.
If this should happen, the Wagoner workers would be flung back into the misery of life at Dachau or other camps, as had already happened in the case of others who had established small produc- tive enterprises only to be mined by the currency reform which wiped out their small capital resources.
It was not surprising to find that the Communists have consid- erable influence in the huge Dachau camp where people are living in such terrible conditions. The unofficial leader of the Dachau flüchtlinge was a Communist who by organizing a hunger strike and mass-protest meetings had forced the Bavarian administration to improve conditions in the camp, by “winterizing” the wooden buildings and providing somewhat more food.
The Bavarian authorities held responsible for the inadequate ac-
208 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
commodations and food in the camps are not, however, the real culprits. Bavaria has been forced to take far more erman expellees than any other part of Western Germany, and since so much hous- ing has been requisitioned for DP’s and the occupation forces, the problem is insoluble.
According to Military Government estimates, in 1948 a quarter of the more than nine million inhabitants of Bavaria were not Bavarians. There are over a million expellees from Czechoslovakia; 606,000 from east of the Oder and Neisse rivers; 51,500 from Hun- gary; and another 170,000 from various other places. In addition, there are nearly 300,000 Germans from the other zones or other Western states; and 164,000 foreigners living on the German econ- omy. To these figures there has to be added uncounted thousands of unregistered persons who have entered Bavaria illegally. In this respect Bavaria has the worst problem of all the Western Länder because of her long frontier, which vast numbers of people cross under the cover of night, coming from Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, as well as the Russian zone of Germany. Whatever efforts are made to find work and adequate shelter for the refugees, so many more keep on coming that Bavaria is like Sisyphus pushing uphill a stone which continually rolls down again.
Only half of the total population increase in Bavaria is ac- counted for by expellees “legally” brought in under the Potsdam agreement. By the first of January 1948, the Bavarian population which in 1939 was seven million had increased to nine and a quar- ter million; 1.8 million were refugees and 292,000 were evacuees from other parts of Germany.
Seventy thousand foreigners, not cared for by UNRRA, entered Bavaria in 1945-46. In 1947 another seventy-five thousand “border trespassers” were registered in the German camps in Bavaria. The currency reform in 1948 which entitled everyone to receive forty of the new D marks revealed the existence of a hundred thousand additional illegal immigrants in Bavaria who had never registered and had not received ration cards but had presumably existed on the black market.
An increase of two and a quarter million in Bavaria’s population makes it physically impossible for the German administration to provide adequate housing, for in addition there are 330,000 people who were rendered homeless either by the bombing of their houses or their requisitioning by Military Government. A million rooms were destroyed and another million seven hundred thousand dam-
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 209
aged by bombing during the war. The United States Military Gov- ernment has requisitioned another 115,000 rooms. Excluding the comparatively ample space reserved for the IRO’s DP’s and the far more than adequate accommodation taken over by the Mili- tary Government for the housing and recreation of Americans and their guests, Bavaria is today so overcrowded that the average “liv - ing space” is one room to each two persons. In Nuremberg, Regens- burg, and other badly damaged cities there are nearly two and one- half persons per room or cellar.
This average housing space includes barracks, wooden summer camps unfit for living in winter, the dungeonlike bunkers (air-raid shelters) with damp cement walls in which thousands live, stables, and other structures unfit for human habitation.
Some refugees are housed in dance halls and gymnasiums and other quarters without sanitation or heating. The transit camps are so packed with humanity that newcomers often have to be kept in the freight cars in which they arrive, or left to sleep in the fields without cover.
The majority of the German refugees are women and children, but it is not even possible to find employment for the men and others fit to work. Of the 1.9 million German refugees in Bavaria, 1.2 million are sheltered in agricultural communities with fewer than four thousand inhabitants, and they cannot make use of refugee labor to any considerable extent.
The cost to the Bavarian state of feeding the refugees and pro- viding them with beds, blankets, clothing, and household utensils is out of proportion to its resources. In 1948, it was providing three and a half million D marks a month for the maintenance of the camps, not counting the clothing and beds initially supplied.
In 1948 Herr Jaenicke, the Bavarian Minister, who is himself refugee from Silesia, appealed to the United Nations for help, say- ing that it is impossible for Germany to house and feed the Ger- man and non-German refugees denied help by the International Refugee Organization. He appealed in particular for a) the release of unoccupied housing accommodations by the IRO; b) speeding up the repatriation or emigration of DP’s; c) extension f IRO care o to the large number of foreign refugees who now escape from So- viet territory to Germany and have to be provided for by the Ger- man economy; d) consideration of the need to provide employ- ment for German and other European refugees in the allocation of Marshall Plan funds.
210 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
Bavaria is the land of refuge for all who succeed in escaping from the countries ruled by the Communists. But when the Ger- mans appeal for help in coping with this great influx of fugitives from Communist terror, they are told that it is not the concern of the Military Government, but entirely a German responsibility. It is not funny, however ridiculous, that, while insisting that expellees and refugees are a German responsibility, the Military Government should smugly announce that it has “directed that adequate recep - tion and distribution facilities be provided.” For it knows as well as the Germans that this is impossible.
Our Un-American Activities in Germany
IF THE UNITED STATES ADMINISTRATION HAD BEEN DOMINATED BY Communists it could hardly have done a better job in preparing the way for Communist rule in Germany, than the Military Gov- ernment during the first two years of the occupation. The denazifi- cation law was used to expropriate the capitalists, pauperize the middle classes, and bring democratic justice into contempt; Com- munists were appointed to leading administrative positions and put in control of newspapers and radio stations; and Germany was con- fined in an economic strait-jacket which precluded the revival of free enterprise and created the chaos, misery, and despair, cal- culated to drive the Germans into the Communist camp.
The Nuremberg and Dachau trials directly affected only a small number of people, but the principles enunciated there, combined with the directives given to the Military Government by Wash- ington in JCS 1067/6, deprived the majority of Germans in the United States zone of liberty, property, and other civil rights.
JCS 1067/6 suspends habeas corpus indefinitely, and told the Military Government it had authority to arrest and hold in prison without trial anyone who might endanger Allied objectives, includ- ing, of course, those of Soviet Russia.
It also instructed the United States Army authorities to dismiss both from public office and from positions of importance in pri- vate enterprise, not only Nazis but “all other persons hostile to Allied purposes.” If this instruction had been applied in its full rigor, it would have allowed practically no Germans, except the Communists, to old administrativeh or executive positions, since few other Germans could have been expected at that time not to be hostile to Allied policy.
212 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
The “Law of Liberation from National Socialism,” as the de - nazification decree was humorously, or cynically, named, affected some twelve million people out of the total seventeen million in the United States zone. For it penalized not only all members of the Nazi party, but also their families, and members of affiliated organizations. It was based on JCS 1067/6 which instructed the United States Army authorities to arrest, among others, all persons holding “important” positions in the national and local civil and economic administration down to and including village mayors, and in “industry, commerce, agriculture and finance.”
“It may generally be assumed,” said the Washington directive, “that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, any persons hold - ing such positions are Nazis or Nazi sympathizers.”
Thus in effect the United States adopted the Communist theory that capitalists were ipso facto National Socialists, and as late as the fall of 1947 the United States Military Government was still holding in prison without trial men whose only crime was that of having been the owners of industrial enterprises or executives of large corporations.
So great was the influence of the Communists in Washington at this time, and so closely did the United States follow Moscow’s class-war directives, that the United States Commander in Ger- many was also ordered to “take under his control all property, real and personal, owned or controlled . . by all persons subject to . arrest.”
Since several years were required to process the tremendous num- ber of people affected by the denazification law, this meant that the property of the accused and their families was confiscated for an indefinite period whether they were guilty or not.
In Bavaria the United States Military Government went so far as to appoint a known Communist as Minister of Denazification. Many Spruchkammer (denazification boards) were dominated by the Communists who utilized their position to get rid of their political opponents. For the terrible thing about denazification in the United States zone was that if anyone denounced you as a Nazi you had your job and your money taken from you until you could prove your innocence. Many people were kept waiting in prison, or “free” but deprived of the right to earn a living, for years before they so much as had an opportunity to prove their innocence.
Since anti-Communist and Nazi were synonymous terms in the Communist vocabulary, many non-Nazis and even anti-Nazis were
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 213
deprived of their jobs, or penalized in other ways by the Commu- nist-dominated denazification boards. For instance, I was told by the students at the University of Munich that Professor Adolf Weber, who is one of Germany’s best economists and never a Nazi, was persecuted and prevented from teaching for a long time by the denazification authorities because he is anti-Communist.
Of course it was not only the Communists who took advantage of the unlimited right given by the United States to anyone to ruin innocent men by denouncing them without evidence. Anyone who had a grudge against someone else for personal as well as political reasons could cause his enemy injury y informing against him without proving the charge. Even if the victim of the denunciation was eventually able to prove his innocence, he would have suffered loss of his job, sequestration of his property, and a long period of mental anguish. This was the inevitable consequence of America’s destruction of the foundation of democratic justice by decreeing that in Germany innocence, not guilt, had to be proved.
Another case worth citing which was brought to my attention by the students at Munich was that of rofessor Voerlzer, a well known architect who had been driven into exile in Turkey by the Nazis in 1933. In 1946 while holding the position of Rector of the Munich Technical College and Chairman of the Commission for Reconstruction, he was accused by an obscure architect of having spied for Turkey during the war. He was thrown out of his job and subjected to all sorts of restrictions and indignities for a whole year. During this period reconstruction in Munich was at a standstill.
The Nazis as well as the ommunists were able to use the de-C nazification law to get rid of their enemies. In fact, the Commu- nists and the Nazis had a joint interest in utilizing the denazifica- tion law to penalize everyone of liberal or conservative tendencies.
After denazification was abandoned in the Russian zone in favor of the present Soviet policy of courting the Nazis and encouraging them to join the Communist Party, the Communists in the West- ern zones withdrew from the Spruchkammer, and held large meet- ings for the “li ttle Nazis” to tell them how badly treated they were by the United States authorities.
The turnabout of the Communists left few Germans interested in implementing the denazification law which had not only iden- tified Nazism with opposition to Communism, ut had placed premium on dishonesty and was regarded by most Germans as merely a method of exterminating the German professional classes,
214 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
“capitalists,” and qualified administrative and technical personnel.
Meanwhile the United States Military Government had been forced to admit that it had bitten off more than it could chew by attempting to process some twelve million people. It had also be- gun to realize not only that a democratic Germany could never be established under its original directives, but lso that no kind of a viable economy could be re-established in Germany if no one who had ever been a Nazi was allowed to work except as a laborer. The fact that the Nazi regime had insisted that administrators, tech- nicians in important positions, and executives of industrial and business enterprises must join the Nazi party in order to retain their jobs, made it impossible for the German economy to function so long as all former Nazis were debarred from working except as “hewers of wood and drawers of wa ter.”
Unable or unwilling to admit the absurdity and futility of the original denazification law, the United States Military Government tried to escape from its predicament by proclaiming a series of amnesties. First there was a “youth and poverty” amnesty ; next a disability amnesty which wrote off veterans and others fifty per cent disabled. A distinction was further drawn between those who had joined the Nazi party in 1933 or before when its character was unclear, all of whom were held guilty, and those ho had joined it later who were held to be less culpable.
Finding that in spite of all its efforts to escape from the predica- ment into which its original directives had landed it, it was still stuck with three million seven hundred thousand unprocessed
“ Nazi criminals,” the Military Government wrote off a million and a half of them as only “nominal” Nazis. It also released most of the men and women who had been kept for years in prison without trial, and allowed many others who had been tried but had ap- pealed their sentences to go home.* Wishing to wash its hands of the whole silly business, the Military Government finally declared that denazification was a German concern. Its pressures were sub- sequently exerted under cover, being used to ensure the institution of denazification proceedings against those who were acquitted at Nuremberg in spite of the efforts of the prosecution, and against
* In February 1947 Military Government ordered that all those who had ap- pealed against their sentences should e held in prison; but b in March 1948 it rescinded the order and left it up to the Germans to decide who should be set free. So in 1948 most of the former Nazis who had appealed their sentences were allowed to go home.
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 215
those witnesses who had refused to testify as the prosecution re- quired.
Since the Military Government had started out with the idea that the “little guys” should be tried first, the net result of Ameri - ca’s attempt to process nearly half the population and then giving up the whole project s that the minor offenders iwho were tried in the first years of the occupation received very stiff sentences, while many major offenders have escaped with light sentences or have been acquitted because their cases were tried recently by local German courts. Thus those least responsible for Hitler’s crimes have lost everything, while the major offenders and offenders (Groups 1 and 2) who were not tried until later, have recently been “denazified” after the payment of a small fine. It became matter of luck how a former Nazi was classified and what penalties were inflicted. Where those who believe the German name can be cleansed by inflicting stiff sentences are in charge of denazification, former Nazis receive maximum sentences. Elsewhere they have es- caped with nothing more than a small fine, or are put in Group 5 and let off. Moreover, a man’s fate has largely depended on his influence as well as the locale in which he is tried.
Whereas many Gauleiters, Gestapo chiefs and other leading Nazis have either been exonerated or classified as minor offenders, and are now at liberty, I found a miserable collection of former industrial workers, craftsmen, peasants and minor party func- tionaries in the Langwasser prison near Nuremberg, which I vis- ited in November 1948. Here were the last remaining Nazis in Bavaria still held in prison while awaiting trial, and those already condemned but not permitted like others to go home while await- ing the result of their appeals.
Out of a total of 240 men interned at Langwasser 70 were man- ual workers, fifteen farmers or peasants. 40 minor civil servants, and 35 intellectuals. The prisoners included 41 people who were not even party members and three former inmates of Nazi concen- tration camps. The majority of them had been in prison without trial for years; many were old and sick. They were for the most part a pitiful collection of forgotten men who had no money and no influence and had lost all hope. The exceptions were such former important figures as von Papen, shoved into prison by the Bavarian denazification authorities after his acquittal by the International Military Tribunal, although he is not a Bavarian; and Fritzsche, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, who had been condemned to nine years
216 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
imprisonment by a denazification court also after having been ac- quitted by the I.M.T.
I was taken to Langwasser prison at my request by Camile Sachs, who is chief of denazification in Bavaria, presumably because he is half Jewish, since he seemed to have no qualifications for the job. He had not himself suffered imprisonment under the Nazis and he insisted passionately that it was a German concern to pun- ish all Nazis. Sachs was certainly an improvement over his prede- cessor Lorenz, who as Minister of Denazification had condemned hundreds of thousands of people to prison but had now been ar- rested himself as a common criminal. Lorenz, I was told by Amer- ican correspondents, was a sinister type and a potential new Hitler, but no one knew whether he had been subsidized by the French or the Russians.
The trouble with Sachs seemed to be his subservience to the Military Government. His son was employed in the “Special Proj - ects Division” attached to the Prosecutor’s Office, and there was thus perfect coordination between the Nuremberg rosecution and the Bavarian denazification authorities. The latter have pounced upon witnesses and such of the accused as the prosecutor failed to convict and sent them to German prisons in place of Military Gov- ernment ones. In Germany under United States rule the legal prin- ciple that you cannot be tried twice for the same crime has been jettisoned like so many others.
Camile Sachs’ thick Bavarian accent and voluble inconsequential meanderings made it very difficult for me to understand him, so the prisoner, Fritzsche, former Propaganda Minister of the Third Reich, translated what he said into good German, or what Sachs called Prussian German, so that I could understand.
Fritzsche had come to Sachs’ office to plead for a re -examination of the cases of the minor offenders in the camp, because as he stated to me frankly, if the little people were not released, he had no hope of ever getting out of prison himself. It struck me, how- ever, that the indifference of German and other democrats to the fate of the workers who had got themselves in prison merely be- cause they had believed Nazi propaganda or despaired of democ- racy, was enabling former Nazis to retain or regain the confidence of the German “common man.”
Fritzsche, very tall and straight, polite but not subservient in his manner in talking to Sachs, inspired the respect which courage evokes whatever a man’s antecedents and views may be. He was
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 217
thin to the point of emaciation but he had not been broken by his ordeal at the hands of the Russians, who had put him in the Lubianka prison in Moscow after he surrendered Berlin to them and interrogated him day and night; nor by his long incarceration at Nuremberg where the prisoners had been kept under brilliant lights day and night, watched every moment, forced to sleep with their arms outside the covers, and never given enough to eat.
He also had a sufficiently good sense of humor to laugh when said I thought the propaganda ministers of all nations ought to be incarcerated.
Sachs said he was no Gestapo man and told Fritzsche to show me around the prison, which consisted of wooden huts in a large compound. The greater part of this huge camp was empty. It seemed to me a great pity that the German expellees from the Eastern territories could not occupy it, since the huts afforded bet- ter accommodations than that afforded to the victims of Yalta and Potsdam. It was a commentary on the postwar world that the im- prisoned Nazis held guilty of Hitler’s war crimes were living in considerably better conditions than the victims of our war crimes, whom I had visited at Dachau and other places. Not that the Langwasser prison could compare to the prisons of the United States in which common criminals are confined. The huts are draughty and cold and the food as inadequate but not more so than that of the German workers. But the prisoners at Langwasser at least had elbow room, unlike the German expellees from the Eastern territories who are crowded fifty to a room.
I talked to von Papen in the hospital wing of the prison or an hour, during which he told me how close Germany and France had been in 1932 to an accord which would have prevented the Nazis from coming to power. Afterwards I talked to other prisoners. Of these conversations I remembered best the one I had with a for- mer factory worker who had been a social democrat before 1933. When I asked him why he had become a Nazi, he said: “It was the first time in my life I ever had security. No one could fire me.”
Almost bald, short, emaciated and grey faced, a bewildered “common man” who had never understood what it was all about, this man now sits in jail for an indefinite period.
On our way through the camp we met a group of prisoners wait- ing at the locked gate to attend the funeral of a man who had hung himself the ight before.n The poor devil had been rearrested after having been released from several years in prison, because the
218 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
Yugoslavs claimed him. He had been torn away from his wife and three young children whom he had had to leave without anyone to provide for them, just when he had begun to hope he could earn a living again. Expecting death at the hands of the Commu- nists, or life-long slave labor, he had committed suicide.
Denazification is today nearing its end, but it has left enduring bitterness and distrust of democratic justice. To punish men for their opinions or political affiliations, not for actual crimes, is bad enough. It is even worse to have let the “big shots” who were the pillars of the Third Reich go unpunished because they have in- fluence, re usefula to the Military Government, or pretend they never were Nazis, and to punish thousands of small fry because they were tried too soon, or were too honest to deny their beliefs, refused to be subservient to their conquerors, or had no power to move their judges.
Fritz Hentzler, the Socialist Bürgermeister of Dortmund, who has been a lifelong anti-Nazi, said that denazification was a funda- mentally unjust proceeding, and one of the “most appalling things ever done.” As he pointed out, one of the esse ntials of a democratic state is the independence, impartiality, and legal experience of those who administer justice. The man in the street lacks the qual- ifications to be a judge, and to use him as such on a denazification panel was to imitate the “peopl es democratic justice” of the Com - munists.
According to Fritz Hentzler, the British denazification proceed- ings were worse than the American. Anyone useful to the British, he said, was tolerated, and a premium put on treachery, as for in- stance when Diehl (who was the first chief of Goering’s Prussian Gestapo and was succeeded by Himmler who formed the Reich Gestapo) was put in Category 5 (exonerated) because at the end he had betrayed the Nazis, as he had formerly betrayed the last Weimar Republic Minister of the Interior for Prussia under whom he had served before Hitler came to power.
In the British zone, Hentzler said, the hearings of denazification boards were not open to the public and the defendants were not even heard. Former Nazis who had “good onnections” or were in c a position to supply black-market goods, could obtain “certificates of exoneration” to send into the courts. There was at first no Pub - lic Prosecutor to call witnesses and ensure the condemnation of the guilty, nor any court to which those sentenced on account of their lack of influence could appeal.
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 219
According to other accounts the British denazification proceed- ings were far more equitable than the American. They picked only such Nazis as would have been tried in a criminal court under pre-Hitler German or Anglo-Saxon law. That is to say, they tried people only for the crimes they had committed, not for their opin- ions or for membership in the party. So they prosecuted only twenty-five thousand people and released many of them. But Fritz Hentzler was probably right in thinking that some prominent Nazis were released because they would be useful to the British.
The French, like the Russians, regarded ex-Nazis as their most reliable aides since such Germans were completely dependent on their mercy, and to a much smaller degree this may have been true of the British. The point is, of course, that the whole denazification process put a premium on dishonesty, subservience, and treachery and condemned honest men while releasing timeservers, cowards, and clever men who could camouflage their real sentiments and prepare for the day when they could take vengeance on their con- querors by serving them now.
There was no doubt a good deal of truth in the description of denazification given me by Löwenthal, the German-born Frank- furt correspondent of Reuters News Agency.
“In the British zone,” he said. “denazification was carried out by the Nazis, and in the United States zone by the Communists.”
The Communist Schmidt already referred to was removed from his post “for incompetence” nine months after he took office. But this did not change the fact that the totalitarian concepts of the Communists were the basis of the United States zone denazifica- tion law. This law, as German jurists have pointed out, was based on the same principles as Nazi and Communist law. It punished men for their opinions without need to prove any guilty action; it penalized their families; it violated the principle of judicial inde- pendence by giving the Denazification Minister the right to re-ex- amine and quash every judgment: it kept men in prison for years without trial and it continued to penalize them after they had been tried and “denazified.”
A German attorney, Dr. Otto Gritschneder, in a pamphlet called Dead End Denazification demonstrates in detail the Nazi charac- teristics of the denazification law. He writes:
The law of Liberation by Article 61, combined with Military Gov- ernment Law No. 52, produces effects which are in full harmony with
220 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
the Himmler principle, so rightly opposed, of ‘liability of kinship.’ Not only the respondents’ property is blocked, but also that of his wife. It is of no use for the wife to have been officially notified, long ago, that she is “not affected” by the law; nor is it of any avai l to her if she was one of the political persecutees of the Third Reich. Together with her children she shares the fate of her husband, in spite of her own clean political record. In addition to undeniable psychic injury, she takes upon herself all the material injuries as well. Not even in the Third Reich was it customary to ban the wife of a political prisoner from her lodgings. Nor was it usual to seize the property of a non-Jewish wife married to a Jew.
The various amnesties proclaimed by the United States Military Government, far from rectifying the abuses of the denazification law, showed up its arbitrary character, and its unjust foundations. It showed no equity to amnesty people on account either of their age or their incomes. In the case of the youth amnesty it was ab- surd to say that a man who joined the Nazi party at the age of eighteen in 1933 when its aims were unclear, is guilty; whereas younger man who joined the party in 1942 is innocent.
The poverty amnesty was similarly inequitable, unless one ac- cepts the Communist view that a capitalist, or man of property, and a Nazi are the same thing.
To make an amnesty dependent on either age or fortune is to deny the principle of equality before the law which is the very basis of democratic justice. Thus, both in its application and exemptions the so-called Law of Liberation from National Socialism denied the very basis of liberty, and brought all democratic law into contempt. Politically, as well as morally, the law has been disastrous, since who ill disclose his real convictions if tomorrow he may be per-w secuted once again for his opinions— either by the Communists or the Western democracies?
To quote a German liberal woman writer, Dr. Maria Fritzle of Stuttgart:
A man is never more sensitive than in his feelings for law. . . if he has to suffer discrimination under the law, which he does not deserve, then abhorrence and internal resistance will arise which gnaw at his mind and make him unfit for reconstruction. We should always bear in mind that Hitler in the years after 1930, could boast so great an afflux, and of decent Germans too, because he fought against the arti- cles of the Versailles Treaty which burdened Germany with the guilt of having started the war. This article violated the German feeling for
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 221
law because it established a collective guilt of all the Germans and based the demand for reparations upon that guilt. We do not serve peace but work against it if we violate the sound feelings for law of our countrymen by imposing upon them eparations for things which are r not a crime in themselves. . . Numerous young people deny .the state and politics their service, although they could give valuable help to democracy. The fear of the questionnaire of the future kills the honest battle of opinions at the present time.
Dr. Ludwig Hagenauer, the Socialist Minister for Denazification in Bavaria who succeeded the Communist Schmidt, pointed out the harmful political consequences of the Denazification Law in 1947, when he said that the incrimination of hundreds of thousands of persons for formal reasons had pressed many who were formerly averse to National Socialism “into a sympathetic community with the confirmed National Socialists, due to the common and equal treatment of both.” As Dr. Gritschned er wrote: “Instead of purg - ing the German people by punishing the Nazi criminals, National Socialism is being immortalized by the Denazification laws.”
Finally, it is worth quoting the statement made by Eugene Kogon who himself spent years in Hitler’s con centration camps:
It is not a crime to have erred politically. . . A political error . . is not a matter which should be brought before a court. To err is human . . . we have a right to err, if we do not want to be either slaves, mari- onettes or gods. . . .
The manner in which attempts have been made for two years now to make the German people free of National Socialism and militarism has contributed a great deal to the chaotic state in which we find our- selves today. Everybody with inside information knows that the result is less denazification than renazification. The following bad saying is repeated from mouth to mouth:—
“Since the democratic sun shines above us, we are getting browner every day.”*
Before one gets brown one gets red. There is little doubt that it was the influence of the Communists, and of those Americans who have knowingly or in ignorance adopted their theories, which led to the denial of fundamental American political and legal prin- ciples in occupied Germany. Not only did Americans sit with the representatives of Soviet tyranny on the International Military Tri-
* In an article in the Frankfurter Hefte in July 1947. Quoted in Dead End Denazification, privately printed as a manuscript by Dr. Otto Gritschneder, Munich.
222 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
bunal at Nuremberg, thereby bringing the whole proceedings into disrepute, the United States Military Government put Commu- nists and “totalitarian liberals” in a position to discredit democ - racy and pave the way for a Communist conquest of Germany from within.
The appointment of a German Communist as Minister of De- nazification in Bavaria in 1945 was only one among many examples of the Military Government’s partiality for the Communists, and acceptance of their definition of democracy during the first years of the occupation. The general use made of Communists to “teach democracy” to the Germans was in fact the outstanding un -Ameri- can activity which helped discredit democracy in German eyes and made it indistinguishable from Nazi totalitarian rule.
The former political intelligence officer (PIO) in Bavaria for the United States Military Government in its relations with the Germans was a certain Martin, a former DP of Austrian origin and a full-fledged member of the Communist Party, who was refused a visa to the United States. Nevertheless, he continued to repre- sent the United States Military Government as a PIO charged with supplying information to DENA and other German news media. Mr. Martin was also sent by the Military Government on a tour to exhibit the documentary film “People’s Court,” which recorded the trial of the German resistance leaders who had tried to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944.
General Telford Taylor, who sent Mr. Martin on this tour, ap- parently imagined that the film would demonstrate to the Germans how fair the Nuremberg trials were, in contrast to the horrible treatment meted out to the anti-Hitler conspirators. Taylor was, it seemed, too obtuse to realize the effect of sending a Communist to show the film in Germany and comment on it. f course, the reaction of the Germans to the movie was to say, “What fine brave fellows those German aristocrats were, and how terrible it is to be ruled now by Communist sympathizers under the American flag.”
This same Mr. Martin was held responsible for the continued operation, after the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia, of the Czech short-wave radio station in the former press camp at Stein Castle near Nuremberg. So while thousands of Czechs were seek- ing to flee the Communist terror, a radio station in American oc- cupied territory was still permitted to broadcast Czech-Communist propaganda!
Thus the communist Martin, in American uniform with Ameri-
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 223
can transport and communications at his disposal, was enabled to perform yeoman service for Stalin under the protection of General Telford Taylor, who used him to instruct the German press con- cerning what they should and should not say.
As Peter Blake, a former United States political intelligence of- ficer in Frankfurt demonstrated in an article published in Politics in the summer of 1948, it was not the failure of the “army mind,” but that of the “liberal mind” which made the American zone of Germany “ripe for Stalinism.”
Mr. Blake’s article shows in detail what a “strange collection of American ‘liberals,’ Stalinoids, and Russia Firsters” were as - sembled in the Information Control and Political Affairs Divisions of Military Government “to lend the United States Army a help - ing hand in re-educating the Germans.”
Information Control Division (ICD), he wrote, contained such well-known Communist sympathizers or Soviet apologists as Saul K. Padover of PM, Cedric Belfrage of Hollywood who subsequently became editor of a pro-Wallace magazine (the National Guard- ian), and a choice selection of other former OWI employees of the same political coloring.
Mr. Cedric Belfrage, according to Peter Blake’s account, ap - pointed German Communists as the licensees of the most impor- tant newspaper in the American zone: The Frankfurter Rundschau with a circulation of 150,000. One of his appointees, Emil Carle- bach, who had been in Buchenwald, was subsequently exposed as having collaborated with Hitler’s SS in murdering other inmates of the concentration camp.*
Another of the men Mr. Belfrage picked to teach the Germans democracy as an editor of the Frankfurter Rundschau was Wil- helm Gerst, who later became an active organizer for the Russian Socialist Unity Party (SED).
The Information Control Division rejected the services of such proved anti-totalitarian German liberals s the former editorial a staff of the pre-Hitler Frankfurter Zeitung and “kicked them around” for so long that some took off for the French zone, and started a fortnightly called Die Gegenwart which has established itself as one of the best magazines in Europe.
* See the August 1948 issue of Harper’s Magazine for the account given by the Socialist Ernst Federn of how Carlebach murdered, or attempted to mur- der, fellow inmates of Buchenwald whom he thought might become postwar opponents of Communism.
224 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
Dr. Joseph Dunner, who, although former Chief of Intelligence for the OWI in Europe, was neither a Communist sympathizer nor naive, wrote in the June 8, 1946 issue of the New Leader how, as an ICD official in Germany, he was approached by the German Communists who evidently expected him to do his duty by Stalin like his colleague Mr. Belfrage. Bruno Goldhammer, chief of the Bavarian Communist Party, came to Dr. Dunner and said:
I understand that you are about to organize a German newspaper in Munich. You know that in Frankfurt, where such a paper already ex- ists, several Communists have been admitted as licensees of the paper.
I have come to ask you, in the name of the Communist Party to follow the example of your colleagues in Frankfurt and to include among the licensees in Munich Communists whom my party will nominate. (Ital- ics added.)
In another issue of the New Leader (May 25, 1946) Dr. Dunner told how the German-American News Agency, DENA, was placed under Communist control.
The Communists and their fellow ravelers having established a cen- t ter . . in the. Information Control Unit for Greater Hesse in June 1945, Brigadier General Robert McClure, chief of the I.C.D. assigned seven civilians of the O.W.I., two lieutenants and four enlisted men, to Bad Nauheim to lay the foundation of DENA. . . the team was headed by Lt. Edel, a former correspondent for PM.
According to Peter Blake’s account in Politics, the Information Control Division of the United States Military Government, also enlisted the help of a certain Dr. Hans Meyer, a German from Switzerland who was a leader of the Stalinist “Protective League of German Writers,” who told Blake that he “thanked God for the Soviet Union.”
The top licensee of DENA, as might have been expected, turned out to be Dr. udolf Agricola, a CommunistR Party member since 1933.
The Stalinist Dr. Hans Meyer was subsequently appointed Po- litical Chief of Radio Frankfurt but eventually, according to Peter Blake :
Even I.C.D. found his (Meyer’s) denunciation of Churchill and other s as “war mongers” a little hard to swallow, and it even penetrated Mili - tary Government’s consciousness that a Communist political commen -
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 225
tator, broadcasting three times a week over one of Western Germany’s principal stations, was not the best advertisement the U.S. could pro- duce of the democratic way of life.
So at least, early in 1948, Dr. Meyer was “permitted to resign.”
The Munich radio station was also placed under the direction of a Communist: Herr Bentschen.
Heute, an official American German-language magazine, was entrusted to a certain Captain Heinz Norden, who besides being fanatically anti-German was a member of several Communist-front organizations such as the American League against War and Fas- cism, whose vice-chairman was Earl Browder, and the American Youth Congress. Captain Norden naturally devoted a large amount of space in Heute to articles by Ilya Ehrenburg and to picturesque accounts of the happy life of the Poles and of the Germans in the Russian zone.
There have been many and important changes in the past year or two, and the “Stalinists” no longer have the power they once held in the Information and other divisions of Military Govern- ment. But the evil they did lives after them. Many Germans no longer believe in American democracy, after having for so long been forced by the United States Military Government to swallow Communist propaganda.
Germans cannot forget how during the first years of the occupa- tion the Information Control Division forbade any criticism of Soviet Russia or its satellites in American-licensed newspapers, pe- riodicals, and radio stations. The American ban on the publication of news unfavorable to the Soviet Union and its satellites was ex- tended to cover such subjects as the cruel expulsions of women and children from Silesia, Russian arms manufacture in the Eastern zone of Germany, and the collaboration of former Nazis and Ger- man General Staff officers with the Red Army. Military Govern- ment directives not only protected the Soviet Union from adverse criticism but forbade knowledge of its anti-western activities to be published in German newspapers. By its positive and negative actions the representatives of the American people in Germany both discredited Western democracy and destroyed belief in our integrity.
Military Government did not confine its un-American activities to giving unlimited facilities for propaganda to the Communists. It also insisted upon the inclusion of German Communists in state
226 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
and city administrations. In its zeal to establish “people’s democ - racy” it insisted on “coalition governments”: forcing the Germans to include Communists in the Länder administration of Bavaria and Hesse. In Munich, for instance, as late as April 1948, the head of the Economics Office was a German woman Communist who naturally sabotaged production instead of endeavoring to increase it and improve conditions.
It was not until 1947 that the Germans were permitted to get rid of the Communists in state and local government, and as late as the summer of 1948 when I was in Berlin, Communists were still employed in the labor offices, food offices, and health administra- tion of the boroughs of Zehlendorf, Steglitz, Schöneberg, Tempel- hof and Neukölln in the Western sectors.
In Munich I asked Hermann Jordan, a articularly intelligent and politically well-informed young instructor in mathematics at the University, about Communist influence in Bavaria. His reply was a revealing commentary on the past un-American activities of the United States Military Government. He said:
“In the early days of the occupation the Communists were very influential because of the key positions they held in the Western zones, their excellent organization, and their long period of train- ing in the Soviet Union before being appointed to their jobs by the United States Military Government. But not now. Since Amer- ica withdrew its support from the Communist Party, it is no longer a political factor in the Western zones.”
Jordan is half Jewish and so escaped military service but he had been elected head of the organization for securing jobs for the students of the University who nearly all have to earn their living while studying, and most of whom are veterans. Thanks to Jordan, I was invited to a big student meeting addressed by Dr. Hans Ehard, the President of Bavaria. Ehard was endeavoring to con- vince the students that they should not despair of democracy, now that there was hope of the formation of a Western German state, but the loudest applause his speech evoked occurred when he said:
“The mention of the word democracy, or democratic, especially before a young audience, arouses a wave of distrust in Germany today.”
Ehard went on to say that this does not mean that the idea of democracy is considered fundamentally bad, or that the years of dictatorship have rendered the German people so unaccustomed to freedom that they have become “obtuse to the principles of demo -
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 227
cratic life.” “The explanation is somewhat different.” said Ehard. “Our doubts arise from the contradiction between democ ratic illu- sions and the reality of power relationships in the world of today.”
Listening to the questions put to Dr. Ehard by the students and talking to some of them afterwards, I got a glimmer of understand- ing of the attitude of German youth today. ost of them stand aside from politics, having no respect for, or confidence in, any of the parties. Veterans of all the battlefields of Europe, brought up in the Nazi ideology which led Germany to disastrous defeat and now equally disillusioned with democracy, they also have no faith in communism. Several of them, however, told me that in 1945 they had inclined toward the Communists, or had believed that collaboration with them was possible and desirable. It had taken them a year or two to understand the difference between Commu- nist theory and practice, just as they had not at the beginning understood the gulf which divides the professions of the Western Powers and their actions. Moreover, at the beginning of the occu- pation it was impossible to distinguish between democracy and communism, since the Americans had identified the two and put many Communists in power over the Germans in the United States zone.
When I asked if they thought that many young Germans were still Nazis at heart, Jordan replied: “The drift back to Nazi ideas is mainly the consequence of denazification.”
How could it be otherwise since the only difference between “democratic” justice and totalitarian justice appeared to be the categories of people singled out for collective punishment?
The American view that the “followers” of the Nazi party are not dangerous while the former convinced believers should be pun- ished for the rest of their lives, was both unrealistic and harmful to the democratic cause in Germany. For whereas men of integrity and intelligence could have been convinced of the error of their beliefs and converted to our way of thinking, the mob which fol- lows success is as likely to follow Stalin today as it was ready to follow Hitler yesterday.
Many of the “little Nazis” ave in fact joined the Communist h Party since Germany’s defeat. All that was needed, as one former Nazi said to me in Berlin, was “to take the swastika out of the Red flag.” On the other hand, those Nazis who were critical of Hitler’s policies, and opposed them at the risk of their lives, are precisely the type which refuses to abase itself before the power of Military
228 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
Government and plead that they never were “real Nazis.” Their former doubts of Hitler’s policies, instead of bringing them over to the democratic camp, give way to a conviction that after all Hit- ler was right since the democracies also believe that justice means only the will of the strong, and there is no hope for the weak.
Many Nazis who never committed any crimes, but are too proud to deny former convictions, and who believe that they only did their duty as German patriots, are outcasts in Germany today; while the timeservers, the liars, the self-seeking and unprincipled men who joined the Nazi party for material advantages or the advance- ment of their careers, are exonerated and allowed to hold office or practice their former professions under Military Government.
Our treatment of the German officer class has been no more in- telligent. No former Wehrmacht officer above the rank of captain is allowed to hold a job in the state or local administrations, or in the universities and professions. No officer is allowed to receive his pension, even if he is so old that he did not fight in either of the World Wars. The widows and children of officers who died fight- ing for their country are deprived of their pensions by order of the United States Military Government. No victor ever treated a van- quished foe with less chivalry and humanity than the United States treats the officers of the defeated German army.
When Marshal von Leeb wrote to General Clay begging that the German States be permitted to pay small pensions to the widows and orphans of the German officers who fell fighting, Gen- eral Clay did not even deign to reply himself to the old Marshal who was appealing not for himself but for the dependents of the slain. Instead, on March 18, 1947, a curt epistle signed by an Amer- ican lieutenant colonel, was sent to Marshal von Leeb, which said:
“In August, 1946, the Allied Control Authority ado pted Law Number 34, repealing all legislation granting privilege, or particular status to ex-military personnel or their survivors. The objectives of the above measures were to combat militarism and the prestige and position of the military classes in Germany.”
Just as Stalin had condemned the children of kulaks and other capitalists to starvation, so the United States Military Government condemned the children of its slain enemies to a pauper status.
The curious thing is that the Military Government should have imagined that it would extirpate militarism in Germany by making martyrs of the families of those who had died fighting for their country.
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 229
Some of the wives and children of the fallen were able to exist on their savings until currency reform. But this measure deprived them of their last resources and reduced them to destitution to- gether with the officers who survived the war but have been de- barred from earning a living.
A letter written by the wife of an old friend to an American gen- eral who once studied in Germany and now holds a high position in the War Department, shows the plight of the German army wives whose husbands are either dead or prisoners of war in Russia.
HAMBURG, JANUARY 1, 1949
“Unfortunately there is nothing good to report. My usband is still a Russian prisoner. As a result of the currency reform I lost the last of my money. At the Welfare office they told me that of- ficers’ families are not allowed to receive anything; that they should be exterminated. They nevertheless allowed me a little relief, al- though not enough to keep alive my four children, who are all still going to school. From June till October our situation was quite bad. Now I have a job as secretary to an exporting firm, so our situ- ation is better, although it is difficult for me also to look after the children.
“We have had a lot of misfortune with sicknesses which are doubtless due to long years of poor diet. My oldest child has been at the hospital for two months, but he is to be sent to Switzerland. I am very glad on that score. When are the Russians going to re- lease the prisoners? The war has been over four years now and still there are hundreds of thousands who have not returned home. This is very inhuman indeed.
“Please don’t be angry at me for having old you my sorrows. would like to have told you good things. Perhaps it will be pos- sible for my husband to write to you himself next January 1 and perhaps things will be better then.
“And now I wish you and your wife much happiness for the year 1949.
With hearty greetings,”
The American officer who translated this letter wrote on the mar- gin: “It is hard to read such a letter without being touched by the thought: the common tragedy, the common courage of all human-
230 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
ity, which transcends man-made national boundaries. Christian kindness, sympathy and understanding also, fortunately can trans- cend them:”
When in the fall of 1948 the former Wehrmacht officers of Hesse wanted to form an “Economic Association of former mem - bers of the Wehrmacht” o secure their pensions andt civil rights, the United States Military Government forbade it.
Meanwhile the Russians offer good pay and special privileges to any former Wehrmacht officers who will join them against us.
As Count von Schlabrendorff (the man who almost killed Hit- ler) said to me in Wiesbaden, many Wehrmacht officers will have no choice but to join up with Russia, since America condemns them and their families to starvation.
Von Schlabrendorff told me what tempting offers he himself had received from the Russians when visiting Berlin— offers which he himself had rejected but which he realized were hard to resist by others who unlike himself were precluded from earning a living by the United States. Moreover, the Russian appeal is not only to self-interest, but also to German patriotism. The German officers are tempted by the prospect of “freeing Germany from the Anglo - Saxon yoke.”
“It is only one step from National Socialism to Bolshevism,” said von Schlabrendorff. Many German officers were anti-Nazi, al- though America has identified their patriotism with Nazi sympa- thies. Today many formerly anti-Nazi officers are moved by the Russian appeal to the old tradition of Russo-German friendship. Stalin continually reminds the Germans that in the past they were strong only when Germany and Russia were friends.
However great their dislike of Communism and their former an- tagonism to Nazism, German officers today remember that after Prussia had been defeated and humiliated by Napoleon, it was re- stored in alliance with Russia which broke the power of France. Germany’s situation today is sufficiently similar for Russian propa - ganda to evoke a response, in spite of German fears of Commu- nism, and the terrible situation of the Germans under Russia’s heel in the Eastern zone. The fact that German officers, like former high Nazis, are much better treated by the Soviet Government than German “common men” cannot but lessen the antagonism of the former officer class to Russia.
The denial by the Western Powers o Germany of the right to t defend herself, coupled with our refusal to guarantee her defense
OUR UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY 231
ourselves, and the fact that only Russia can restore her lost eastern territories to Germany, all play into Russia’s hands.
General Speidel, who was Rommel’s chief of staff, said to me in Freudenstadt in the French zone: “If we cannot expect either jus - tice or security under America, we shall be forced to turn toward Russia. It is not yet too late to orientate Germany toward the West, because that is where most of us want to turn; but the last hour is striking. Soon you will have made it impossible for the Germans to find their way back to the West.”